By COLlive reporter
5,000 priceless books from the Agudas Chasidei Chabad Library, the Central library of the Chabad movement in Brooklyn, New York, went through a special and tedious process to be preserved after sustaining extensive water damage during a hurricane last September.
During Hurricane Ida, when flooding occurred in many places throughout New York City, the Library at 770 Eastern Parkway – Chabad Headquarters, sustained major flood damage, with many inches of water pouring into the room and damaging 5,000 precious holy books.
The Library is one of the most prominent Judaic libraries, containing about 250,000 published volumes, most of them rare. Around 200,000 of these are in Hebrew and Yiddish, and about 50,000 in other languages. The Library contains several thousand Chabad manuscripts, letters, and holy objects which belonged to the Chabad Rebbeim.
Rabbi Yossi Cunin, a Shliach in California whose father, West Coast Coast Head Shliach Rabbi Shlomo Cunin has been involved in a decades-long battle with Russia to restore the books from the Lubavitcher Rebbes’ Libraries to the Central Chabad Library, is also involved in the care and upkeep of the library in New York.
When Rabbi Yossi heard about the flooding, he immediately sprung into action, searching for a company that salvages and restores books that have sustained water damage.
Finding a company that specialized in this, the precious books were immediately brought to the facility in Pennsylvania, and they’ve been able to restore them, COLlive.com was told.
The books were dried using a tedious and specialized process, wherein the books are frozen and then placed in state-of-the-art vacuum freeze-drying chambers for approximately 2 weeks. They are also sterilized against mold.
This week, the first of the books were brought back to 770 Eastern Parkway, and they were replaced in the newly renovated, gleaming library, which has been undergoing renovation and expansion in recent weeks.
Rabbi Cunin and others involved in the efforts were greeted by Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, Rabbi Berel Levine, Director of the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library, and Rabbi Yitzchok Wilhelm, a librarian.
The rest of the books are scheduled to be returned in the next few days, COLlive.com has learned.
Rabbi Krinsky was “very excited” by the return of the seforim, which “he thought were gone for good,” they said.
“Thank G-d we were able to save these priceless seforim,” the person involved told COLlive.com. “The company is now swamped with work, after so many homes and businesses were flooded during Ida. Because these seforim were brought in right away, miraculously all the books were able to be saved,” they said.
VIDEO: Completing construction of the library